Anti-Muslim Extremist Group Had Weapons and Plans to Make Napalm for Attacks on Mosques and Veiled Women

A small group of right-wing extremists in France had big plans to murder Muslims across the country, prosecutors said after a string of arrests over the weekend.

Nine men and one woman were charged with terrorist conspiracy following the arrests. French police found stockpiles of weapons in the group’s possession, as well as literature claiming that the group was fighting the threat from Muslims and Islam. The individuals arrested also had literature instructing them on how to make homemade napalm. The raids on their houses took place in Paris, southwest France and on the Island of Corsica.

Prosecutors said that mosques, Imams, halal food sellers and veiled women were all to be singled out at random, but the group’s plans were not well thought out. The individuals charged were allegedly part of a right-wing extremist group called the Operational Forces Action.

Anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise in Europe after a wave of migration brought around 1 million newcomers from the majority-Muslim Middle East and Northern Africa, beginning in 2015. The number of new arrivals has dropped substantially in recent years, but the changing demographics on the Continent have sparked heated debates and caused political problems, from Italy to the Netherlands.

461728188-594x594 As they gather at Fontaine des Innocents in Paris on January 18, 2015, protesters hold banners and flags during a protest against increasing Islamophobic and racist activities following deadly attacks in France. Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Anti-immigrant, populist political parties have experienced a resurgence in this atmosphere. And on Wednesday, as the right-wing extremists were being sent to court in France, the Netherlands passed a partial ban on some “face-covering” clothing, including the burqa and niqab worn by Muslim women. 

French media have started calling anti-Muslim extremist groups “the ultra-right,” an attempt to highlight the difference between these violent fringe organizations and far-right political parties sweeping into parliaments across Europe. In France, the far right is best represented by Marine Le Pen’s party, the National Front.

The National Front does not advocate violence against Muslims, but some members of the party have acted as apologists for groups like the Operational Forces Action. One National Front politician recently wrote an op-ed arguing that armed groups are forming to defend themselves from Muslims because the government has been too lenient on violent Islamic extremism.

In April, imams in France wrote a letter pledging to combat the wave of anti-Muslim extremism spreading through their country and to fight Muslim extremism.

“If we have decided to speak, it is because the situation, for us, is becoming more and more untenable; and because all silence on our part would now be complicit and therefore culpable,” the letter, which calls out Muslim and anti-Muslim extremism, reads.

“We are as French affected by this despicable terrorism that threatens us all. We are also Muslims, like the rest of our co-religionists, peaceful Muslims, who suffer from the confiscation of their religion by criminals,” the letter says.